Friday, November 20, 2009

Call for Papers: The Milosevic Trail: An Autopsy

The Indiana University, Bloomington, School of Law has issued a call for papers for a conference on "The Milosevic Trail: An Autopsy," to be held February 18-21, 2010. Here's the call:

It has been three years since the longest and most prominent war crimes trial of the modern era was brought to an abrupt halt by the defendant's death - leaving the court, the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, and the world community without a definitive legal resolution. Precisely because the trial ended without final judgment, its meaning and value are especially contested: for some, the indictment and trial of a sitting head of state reaffirmed the importance of international criminal law as a robust response to state criminality; for others, the collapse of this sprawling case proved the insufficiency of judicial responses to complex mass violence.
The Indiana University Maurer School of Law, in cooperation with the Russian and East European Institute and the Center for West European Studies, propose to conduct an autopsy of the Milosevic trial - a clinical evaluation of the trial and its termination - and a biopsy of the institutional context in which the trial played out, as well as a prognosis for its legacy and impact.

It is an opportune time to consider both the full course of the Milosevic trial and its developing impact on global efforts to regulate mass violence and war. Serious scholarship on the trial is now beginning to appear, clarifying the lines of contestation about what the trial meant and what lessons we should draw from it. Looking forward, the ICTY is nearing completion of its work, and legacy issues involving the trial - including how to dispose of the enormous archive of evidence - are increasingly on the agenda. The International Criminal Court (ICC) and other ad hoc tribunals need to take the lessons of Milosevic into account in designing their own trials and institutions. A comprehensive, interdisciplinary examination of the Milosevic trial's impact is therefore well-positioned to make an important contribution to both academic study and policy consideration of international criminal law's role in post-conflict justice.

What the Conference Will Address

Key issues this conference will address include:

  • determining the proper role of historical truth-telling in war crimes trials;
  • measuring the impact of trials in affected communities;
  • refining prosecutorial and judicial strategy in designing war crimes trials;
  • devising case management and institutional design lessons for complex leadership trials;
  • regulating access to trial archives by historians, victim communities and other courts; and
  • considering the relationship between formal, legal processes and broader post-conflict transitional justice initiatives.

We envision an arc in the conference's deliberations from past to future: from initial panels evaluating the course and context of the trial itself, though a speculative investigation of how the trial might have ended, to the final panels considering its potential impact of the future development of post-conflict justice. Was the trial on track to conviction - and on what counts? What effect would judgment have had? Why was the trial so long - what strategic and design choices affected the process? Most importantly, what is its legacy - for the ICTY, ICC and international criminal law more broadly, and for our understanding of intervention in and after conflict? The conference will specifically address the ICTY's completion strategy and the disposition of its enormous archives.

Call for Papers and Participants

We are seeking a small number of additional papers directly addressing the themes of the conference from scholars of international criminal law, transitional justice, or the former Yugoslavia. If sufficient papers of high quality are received, we may add an additional panel. Papers must be closely related to the conference themes, meaning they either analyze aspects of the Milosevic trial or the trialÕs impact on the former Yugoslavia, international criminal law, or transitional justice and post-conflict reconciliation. Papers on general issues of international criminal law (without a specific focus on the Milosevic trial) are unlikely to be accepted. Abstracts (500 words maximum, plus 200 word bio) and CVs are due by 5 December 2009. For papers that are accepted, final drafts will be due in late January. Send proposals to

Alternatively, individuals with a strong background in the relevant fields may also indicate their interest in serving as discussants. At the conference, discussants will present authors' papers and give a short (five-page) review and critique. Individuals interested in being discussants should send a short (300 word maximum) note indicating the specific areas they are most competent to comment upon and their CV by 31 November 2009.

The conference will provide meals to invited participants, and make rooms available at a discounted conference rate. Should additional funding become available, the conference will provide partial or full support for lodging and travel.